Wednesday, September 1, 2010

An Inspiring Blog Roll

It's been several months since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then. Creating blogs has (regretfully) been on the back burner, however, browsing blogs has not. Here are a few blogs I've been viewing this past month. ENJOY!

Tom Ruff -Lends useful tips on resume writing and choosing a career that is for YOU!

BioTechInsider-for those interested in entering the sales industry of science

Medical Sales Recruiter- Peggy McKee gives insightful information about the interview process, resume writing, and closing the job. She also has multiple YouTube clips that are very informative. Here's a useful tip to Behavioral Based Interviews by Peggy McKee.

BioJobBlog-search for science jobs

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a little more hope for Africa's parasite problem

In honor of my buddy Keenan taking a trip to Africa this summer and the fact that basically my only biological thoughts this spring have been geared towards parasites, I thought it would be good to think about some of the obstacles that he would be facing as he headed towards Africa for some mission work.

When he gets there he will be faced with a myriad of potential parasitic threats. River Blindness, Sleeping Sickness, and most famously malaria will be lurking, just to name a few. On the malaria front, however, I am happy to report that soon there may be more options to deaden or even eliminate the threat of malaria for African residents and visitors like my friend.

In two papers I have recently read, microbiologists have been working on ways to protect against infection of Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malarial strain, and the three other species of Plasmodium that infect humans. These experiments were fascinating to study. In one, genes necessary for the parasite to move out of the human liver stage were “knocked out,” effectively stopping the modified, weakened Plasmodium from continuing infection and hurting the mice hosts.

The Knockout step seems to be a promising way to attenuate parasites and bacteria in the future. During the process, crossovers are introduced along the parasitic (in this case) chromosome and the crossovers with successfully disrupted, or deleted, genes are selected for, positively and negatively, in a new growth medium. It seemed pretty involved, but at least in this experiment the ultimate product was a mutant that could not affect the host, but could possibly stay in the system long enough for antibodies to be produced against it. This would hopefully let a vaccinated person acquire immunity from the parasite.

Another option for control that I have read about is a widespread administration of antibiotics like this one. The idea is that Plasmodium populations will be knocked down, and with less numbers in the mosquito, the disease will be less severe and will affect less people. It does not seem like a long-term solution because of possible drug resistance, and it would be hard to administer the drug to a massive amount of people on such a disorganized continent.

Either way, it looks like it might be worth a try. Africa is stricken by parasites and it hinders the ability of the people living there to prosper and have the quality of life that people in “first world” countries have. Our modern science can help to alleviate some of the health problems that cause so many problems there, and it is too bad that the money incentive is not as high for drug makers to put the effort into researching drugs like the more advanced anti-malarial options I have been reading about. It is possible to reduce the threat, though, and we have a recent example. Jimmy Carter may not have been the best, most effective president, but his altruistic work since then has actually been worthwhile and this seems to be what he is now known for. A project of his, the Carter Center, has been working in Africa to eliminate the Guinea worm, and it actually seems like they will do it soon. This is good news, and combined with recent research on other parasites, there actually seems like there is hope that some of the health problems in the Third World will soon be reduced. That progress is being made may not affect my buddy, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be alright.

Publication Information (also embedded, needs pdf)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

AU Senior Seminar Video (2010)

Check out our video sprinkled with comedy and science knowledge (fabulous comments are appreciated)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Backseat Enemy: My Relationship with Motion Sickness

I'd like to consider myself a member of the "Strong-Stomach Club", but that's simply not the case. Instead, I can claim fame to numerous times I've had to tell someone to "pull over" because I couldn't handle the constant stop-go motion of a car ride. Yep, that's me. The one whose either car sick, air sick, train sick, sea sick, rollercoaster sick, or you-name-it sick. For those fortunate enough to not suffer from motion sickness (kinetosis), feel lucky because the symptoms of constant dizziness, cold sweats, headache, and nausea all typically lead to vomiting and grumpiness (in my case, that is).
I can recall the last major episode was during a five hour flight to Phoenix. I had braved air travel several times before, but this particular event was a disaster. Hitting turbulence immediately after our departure was not friendly on my Cheez-It filled stomach and the bag strategically placed infront of my seat contained all the proof.

But what exactly are the mechanics of this annoying sickness that I'm faced with every adventure I dare take? Actually, the vestibular system (or, the inner ear) plays an important role in deciphering the position of the body. The skeletal and muscular system along with our visual perception (all co-workers for the inner ear) are responsible for sending important informational signals back to the central nervous system to help coordinate our balance. The inner ear uses the mechanical force of gravity to determine our body position.
Motion sickness is triggered by contradictory signals to the CNS which results in the unpleasant symptoms previously mentioned. Basically, the body is being overloaded with perceptual signals when it is determining the proper spatial orientation of the body and is perceived as a miscommunication. This signal confusion may initiate vomiting in an act of self-defense against possible ingested neurotoxin.
The area within the brain responsible for inducing vomiting is called the area postrema located within the medullary structure. This region of the brain is responsible for controlling vomiting when poisons are present and is responsible for vision and balance communication. Obviously you can see how miscommunications between these signals would lead to motion sickness. When feeling motion, but not actually seeing it, the inner ear transmits a signal to the brain that motion is occurring. At the same time, the eyes are sending a signal to the brain that nothing is moving. This miscommunication allows the brain to perceive that one of these signals is hallucinating. The brain then determines that the hallucination may be poison induced and sends the body into instant defense mode. The symptoms set in and you immediately feel sick. Your body thinks it's under attack.

Luckily there are several tricks that (sometimes) work and being the veteran motion sickee that I am, believe me I've tried them all.

The first trick being that you always get to ride shotgun (you don't want to make a mess on your friend's car floor). Or better yet, be the driver because it's a lot harder to make yourself carsick than it is to be tousled around in the back seat smashed between your friends.

Get plenty of cool air whether that be putting the window down, cranking the AC up, or whatever it is you have to do to avoid roasting.

Try to stare at the horizon because focusing on objects off in the distance will help stabilize the dizziness. So looking down, reading, texting, organizing your cluttered purse should be the last thing on your mind if you're like me and are in a moving vehicle.

When traveling by air, do what ever possible to get a seat by the window and concentrate on distant objects instead of the plane jerking the passenger behind you into the back of your seat.

If these suggestions don't work, take some antiemetic meds like Meclizine before your travel. These tend to knock you out (especially after a glass of wine) so maybe take half the dose the first time.

Recent studies have suggested that continual exposure to motion sickness usually results in a decrease of symptom onset (3). This included adaptation training on simulation sickness and frankly these people are crazy. They analyzed the use of simulated rotary stimulation (SRS) on visually induced motion sickness. Also, the susceptibility of motion sickness may be genetically linked in a single nucleotide polymorphism of the alpha-2-adrenergic receptor. It was concluded that exposure to excessive rotation did decrease motion sickness symptoms, but whether it is an adaptation phenomenon is still in question. I have yet to agree with these findings and I hesitate to volunteer myself to physically induce such horrible symptoms (I'd rather take Dramamine as preventative measures than be keeled over the porcelain throne from sheer curiosity).

1. Terrie, Yvette C. "Motion Sickness: Calming the Waves of Upset." Pharmacy Times 74.5 (2008): 63-72

2. "Head maneuvers work best for common vertigo." Harvard Women's Health Watch 15.12 (2008): 4-5.

3. DOI: 10.1080/10508410802346921

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yoga Pants and a Teslar Watch...Get 'Um!

I am not a person who would use my hard earned money to attend a yoga class. Partially because I would have to wear a skin-tight tank top and painted on “workout” pants and partially because I would rather run 3 miles outside than do a “downward-facing dog” and a “warrior pose.” I feel the same way about tai chi. When I was about 8, we had crazy relatives over for a Christmas dinner. I was minding my own business, playing with my Pocahontas Barbie doll, and the next thing I know, I was looking at my second-cousin-twice-removed-on-my-mother’s-side doing Tai Chi in the snow with no shoes. Besides the fact that he was a total whack job, the moves he was doing (“parting the wild horses main” and “repulse monkey”) completely closed my mind to any form of exercise which involved an animal’s name.

Of course, scientist can now shove some statistics and studies in my face and confirm that exercises like yoga and tai chi are not only physically healthy for the body but also for the balance of energy in the body. Yes, we now have a way to measure and visually see energy. However, it is only when this energy gets out of balance that we start to have physical problems. It’s called energy medicine and, of course, I first heard of it on The Doctors. Energy medicine is the art and science of working with and teaching people to work with these energies to empower them to live happier, healthier lives. [1] While yoga and tai chi may be good preventatives for such energy imbalances, energy medicine is also good for the treatment of basically anything; from Alzheimer’s disease, to hypertension, to lock jaw.

Forms of energy medicine have been around for over 5,000 years but the Energy Enhancement System (EES) has not. The EESystem basically creates energy, in the form of scalar waves, to balance out or enhance cellular and systemic functions of the body. Every living organism has an energy field and when these fields are out of balance, sickness and disease may be the result. The EESystem was developed 15 years ago by Dr. Sandra Rose Michael who describes the EESystem by making the comparison of “recharging your cell phone” to “recharging your cells.”

I mentioned earlier that scalar waves are responsible for the “rebalancing” of the body’s functions. But what in the world are scalar waves? The only time I have hear the word “scalar” was when it was used in physics class and I still don’t remember what it means. That is where the internet comes in. The EESystem website states that,

A Scalar field is known as a fifth-dimensional non-linear field. Scalar fields exist out of relative time and space, thus they do not decay over time or distance from their source. They are unbounded and capable of passing through solid matter. The human body has crystalline structures in every cell wall that are capable of holding a charge. When the human body enters a Scalar field the electromagnetic field of the individual becomes excited. EESystem uses Scalar technology to return the body to a more original and appropriate electrical matrix.” [2]

Energy and Scalar Waves

Much to my surprise, there have been countless case studies that examine the physiological benefits of these scalar waves on the human body. One such study done by Dr. Glen Rein found that there was an increase in lymphocyte proliferation (e.g. the reproduction of more lymphocytes after an antigen encounter) in people who wore a Teslar watch than those who did not wear a Teslar watch. [3] So what is so special about these watches? Basically, the Teslar watch contains a chip which emits 7 to 9 Alpha wave signals (these signals are also emitted when doing yoga or in a high state of performance). These signals are then able to affect macromolecules such as proteins and DNA as well as cellular membranes which, in this case, can improve the body’s immunity. In short, scalar waves improve lymphocyte proliferation which improves the immune system.

Philip Stein Teslar Women's Dual-time Brown Strap WatchTeslar Watch - $540 on

Along with Dr. Rein there have been many other studies that described the benefits of the EESystem and the use of scalar fields. A study done by Dr. Victor A. Marcial-Vega, recognized as being in the top one percent of medical doctors, showed all the reported effects of 107 patients subjected to ½ to 1 hour in the EESystem “chamber.” Their ages ranged from 7 to 81 years old and their effects were:

More energy- 8 patients

Deep relaxation- 59

Clearing of Panic attack-2

Sleeping during session-13

Disappearance of pain- 6 (3 had cancer pain)

Sense of floating-9

Out of body experiences-9

Visions, Colors- 7

Hearing voices, sounds- 8

Feeling of intense joy-17

Manifestation of prayers-11

Increased Libido, Spontaneous erections- 2

Insomnia from increased energy-4

Seeing people inside chamber-5

Stitches coming out of old scars- 3

Disappearance of breast capsules around implants-2

Tingling, feeling energy moving inside their bodies-17

Warm feeling-15

Symmetrical balancing of facial features-2

A cell Before After the EESystem

Energy field Before After EESystem treatment

So as you can see, there appears to be many physiological and spiritual effects from this system. Just reading the research that was done, the testimonials, and the future research (study the effects of patients with terminal cancer and HIV/AIDS), it is definitely something that I would try and “feel” for myself. But as for now, as I do not have any money, I will have to try and fit into some yoga pants or just stick with running to get my daily scalar waves.